Google Music Service To Take On Apple iTunes This Christmas

Google Inc. is in talks with music labels on plans for a download store and a digital song locker that would allow its mobile users to play songs wherever they are as it steps up its rivalry with Apple’s iTunes.

Google Inc. is in talks with music labels on plans for a download store and a digital song locker that would allow its mobile users to play songs wherever they are as it steps up its rivalry with Apple's iTunes. Photo: Flickr

Apple may get a nasty surprise this holiday season, because Google’s rival to Apple’s iTunes music download service is set to go live before Christmas, according to reports.

Reuters reports that Google is planning to launch both a music download store to rival Apple’s iTunes and a digital song locker for users who want to play their songs wherever they ago.

According to sources close to the matter, Google has already been meeting with major music labels to discuss the new service and would want it up and running by just in time for Christmas.

Apple’s iTunes was the kick-start to sales of digital music, dominating the market every year since it’s launch in 2003, and currently accounts for 70 percent of all sales in the U.S.

And Google Music Service is just the latest battle in this clash of the tech giants as the two rivals are likely to go head-to-head in a number of areas including mobile phones, internet TV and movies, tablet computers, software and advertising.

Google has made no further official comment about its music service, but one record industry executive, who did not wish to be named, said the labels believed the search giant could genuinely compete with Apple.

“Finally, here’s an entity with the reach, resources and wherewithal to take on iTunes as a formidable competitor by tying it into search and Android mobile platform,” the industry executive told Reuters. “What you’ll have is a very powerful player in the market that’s good for the music business.”

Last December, Apple acquired cloud-based music company LaLa Media, leading industry observers to expect a launch of a similar service at Apple’s September 1 Keynote. As it turns out, Apple instead unveiled an updated version of iTunes and an underwhelming social music network called Ping.

Google has yet to sign any deals, or even officially confirm meetings are happening in the first place, but music labels are already looking forward to the prospect of an alternative to Apple — especially one who may not have the same “my way or the highway” attitude.

While Google’s position in the digital music market is still unknown, one sector where the company is currently gaining ground in: mobile phones.

In recent months, phones with Google’s Android mobile operating system have seen a surge in popularity, with an estimated 200,000 sold every day, the company reports. With Android matching iPhones and iPods (which use Apple’s iOS technology), Google could soon be challenging Apple in the mobile market as well.

“There’s no dearth of music available on a computer right now, but Google can still have an impact on the cellphone or any connected device,” said Larry Kenswil, a former Universal Music executive who is a counsel at Loeb & Loeb.

Google’s first step into iTunes territory began last year with their launch of a Google Music Search feature that includes streaming audio previews and music videos among the results.

The company has not made any announcements regarding cloud-based services, however, as Reuters points out, Google’s recent purchase of a remote media company called Simplify Media is most likely not a coincidence.

Cloud-based streaming services such as Spotify and We7 are growing in popularity among consumers, and many industry experts believe Google and Apple are watching the market with interest.

“If [Google] get it right, it will hasten the transition by consumers from music you have to own to music you need ubiquitous access too,” Ted Cohen, a former executive at EMI, told Reuters.[via Mashable and Reuters]

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